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specialty drugs

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The secretive world of pharmaceutical pricing is mired in opacity. To investigate how pricey drugs are impacting California’s budget, reporter Pauline Bartolone found she had to be creative, flexible and persistent in her data sleuthing.

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What looks like a straightforward framework to protect California’s budget from escalating drug costs has policy experts perplexed, and potential allies on the sidelines.

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Despite recent cost-cutting measures, California’s spending on pharmaceuticals has gone up, and so has the number of pricey drugs it is covering. It’s not clear state agencies have the means to balance drug cost pressures with the best interests of patients, taxpayers and public health.

Picture of Pauline Bartolone

The specialty drug Orkambi, for cystic fibrosis, has a sticker price of $259,000 per year. What's driving these astronomical costs for specialty drugs? And can California's budget cope?

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